U.S. high fives Egypt, sticks tongue out at Iran

3 11 2007

I guess maybe you’ve heard by now about the U.S. backing Egypt’s nuclear power program. It alarmingly hypocritical, given that we’re itching for war with Iran over the same thing.

To be fair I have to point out that, right now, the Egyptian government is much more favorably disposed to the U.S. (and to Israel) than Iran. But Mubarak is not going to live forever, and the Muslim Brotherhood is gaining more support in Egypt daily. Which makes our support for the Egyptian nuclear program seem somewhat foolish – if we are labeling the clerical government in Iran dangerous, an Egyptian government lead by the Muslim Brotherhood would have to be equally as dangerous. And such a government is possible in the near future.

But that is not really the point. The point is that this is the kind of behavior that engenders resentment of the U.S. We are clearly not concerned with nuclear proliferation here – we’re concerned with making sure our buddies get what they want, and that anyone who opposes us doesn’t.

And people don’t appreciate being bullied like that.





Everybody’s a terrorist

1 10 2007

A couple of months ago the U.S. Senate voted to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (a segment of the Iranian military) as a terrorist unit. I’m not sure what the surface defense for this was, but the underlying logic is obvious: we can do dirtier things to organizations we label “terrorist” than we can to state-sponsored militaries.

The word “terrorist” is already being thrown around so much by pundits it hardly means anything anymore – it’s the new “Nazi,” in that you can use it to describe anyone whose politics you don’t like. But we have to remember that it’s still a politically charged word, even while its definition is becoming broader. This vote in the U.S. Senate had bi-partisan support despite its inanity – why do you think that is?

Because every politician in the room knew that if he voted against it he could be accused of supporting terrorists, despite the fact that the organization in question is very obviously not a terrorist organization.

If we move away from the specific definition of terrorism they teach you in political science classes – attacks carried out by non-state actors against civilians, typically in order to coerce states into enacting a desired policy – the word loses meaning all together. We already have words for when states use force to coerce their own citizens – military rule, despotism, ‘police state.’ If Congress wants to propose acting against a state for such reasons it should go ahead, but it should use the correct and specific word. To label the IRGC – reprehensible though it may often be – a terrorist organization, is to lie.

Having said that, you can imagine how delighted I was to read about this:

Iran says CIA is ‘terrorist’ agency(al-Jazeera)
The Iranian Parliament has voted to classify the CIA as a terrorist agency, and the U.S. Army as a terrorist organization.

The parliament said the two organisations were terrorists for a number of reasons.

It said they were involved in dropping nuclear bombs in Japan in World War II and used depleted uranium munitions in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq.

It also said they supported the killings of Palestinians by Israel, bombed and killed Iraqi civilians and tortured terror suspects in prisons.

The resolution urges Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s, the Iranian president, government to treat the two as terrorist organisations.

It also paves the way for the resolution to become legislation which, if ratified by the country’s constitutional watchdog, would become law.

Zing!